What are Anxiety Disorders American Psychiatric Association


Anxiety is a common response to pressure. In certain circumstances, modest anxiety levels can even be advantageous. It can warn us of impending risks and assist us in being attentive and ready. Excessive dread or anxiety is a feature of anxiety disorders, which are distinct from typical emotions of apprehension or anxiety. Among mental problems, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent. Almost thirty percent of adults experience them at some point throughout their lives. Nonetheless, a variety of psychotherapy interventions can be used to treat anxiety problems. Most people benefit from treatment and have regular, productive lives.

Anticipating a future worry is called anxiety, and it is more closely linked to tense muscles and avoidance behavior.

Fear is more closely linked to the fight-or-flight response, which involves staying to fight or fleeing the area in order to avoid harm. Fear is an emotional reaction to an immediate threat.

People with anxiety disorders may attempt to avoid circumstances that exacerbate or trigger their symptoms. Personal connections, academic performance, and work performance may all be impacted. Generally speaking, in order for a person to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety or fear needs to:


  • Be improper for your age or out of proportion to the circumstances

  • impede their capacity to carry out everyday tasks

  • Anxiety disorders come in various forms: Specific phobias, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder with or without separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and selective mutism.

Anxiety Disorder Types

Anxiety Disorder in General

Worry that interferes with everyday tasks and is excessive and persistent is a symptom of generalized anxiety disorder. Physical symptoms like restlessness, feeling tense or easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, tense muscles, or trouble sleeping may be present along with this continuous stress and tension. Worries tend to center around routine issues like work obligations, family health, or smaller concerns like housework, auto maintenance, or appointments.

Anxiety Disorder

Recurrent panic attacks, a severe mix of psychological and physical discomfort, are the main symptom of panic disorder. Several of these signs and symptoms coexist during an attack:

  • Heart palpitations, thumping, or accelerated heart rate

  • Perspiration

  • shaky or trembling

  • breathing difficulties or suffocating feelings

  • chest ache

  • Feeling lightheaded, faint, or dizzy

  • a sensation of choking

  • Sensitivity or tingling

  • Flashes of heat or chills

  • nausea or discomfort in the abdomen

  • Feeling disengaged

  • Fear of becoming out of control

  • dread of passing away

Some persons who experience a panic attack may mistakenly think they are suffering from a heart attack or another serious illness due to the severity of the symptoms. They might visit the emergency room of a hospital. Attacks of panic can be sudden and seem to happen out of the blue, or they can be predicted and happen in response to something you fear. Panic disorder typically manifests between the ages of 20 and 24. Together with other mental illnesses like depression or PTSD, panic attacks can also occur.

phobias, Particular Fears

Excessive and ongoing fear of a particular, usually harmless object, circumstance, or action is known as a specific phobia. Patients are unable to get over their overwhelming dread despite knowing it. Some people go to great lengths to escape their worries because they are so distressing. Examples include the fear of spiders, flying, and public speaking.

Fear of spiders

Agoraphobia is the fear of being in circumstances where getting out could be uncomfortable or difficult, or where there might not be someone around to help if panic attacks strike. The worry is disproportionate to the real circumstances, persists for at least six months, and interferes with day-to-day activities. A person who suffers from agoraphobia feels fear in two or more of the following scenarios:

  • Taking the public transit

  • Being in public areas

  • Being in confined spaces

  • Being surrounded by people or in a line

Being alone themselves outside the house

The person needs company, deliberately avoids the encounter, or endures it while experiencing severe fear or anxiety. If left untreated, agoraphobia can get so bad that a person might not be able to leave their home. An agoraphobic may only be identified if their fear is extremely distressing or substantially interferes with their day-to-day activities.

In the past, social anxiety disorder was known as social phobia.

A primary source of worry and suffering for a person with social anxiety disorder is the fear of being rejected, humiliated, embarrassed, or looked down upon in social situations. With this disease, people would either try to escape the situation or deal with it very anxiously. Seen in public eating and drinking, meeting new people, and public speaking are common examples of great fear. The worry or anxiety lasts for at least six months and interferes with day-to-day functioning.

Disorder of Separation Anxiety

An individual suffering from separation anxiety disorder has overwhelming worry or anxiety when they are separated from the people they are attached to. The emotion is excessive for the person’s age, lasts longer than normal (at least four weeks for children and six months for adults), and interferes with daily functioning. A person suffering from separation anxiety disorder could have nightmares about being apart from the person they love the most, be reluctant to leave the house or go out at night, or be extremely concerned about losing the person they care about the most. Although physical signs of distress might last into maturity, they typically first appear in childhood.

Particular Mutism

Although they communicate in other contexts, children with selective mutism remain silent in social settings like schools where it is required of them to speak. While they will talk to those in their own family when they are at home, they frequently remain silent when they are with other people, including close friends or grandparents.

Social communication may be hampered by the lack of speech, yet children with this disorder may communicate nonverbally (e.g., grunting, pointing, writing). Speaking less in class might have serious repercussions as well, such as social isolation and academic difficulties. A great deal of social anxiety, excessive shyness, and fear of social embarrassment are also present in many youngsters who exhibit selective mutism. They usually possess average linguistic abilities, nevertheless.

Selective mutism typically manifests before the age of five, though it could not be recognized until the kid starts school. A lot of kids will grow out of selective mutism. Selective mutism may go away in kids who also have social anxiety disorder, although the disease’s symptoms can still be present.

Hazard Contributors

Although the exact causes of anxiety disorders are unknown, a mix of genetic, environmental, psychological, and developmental variables are probably involved. The fact that anxiety disorders can run in families suggests that a mix of environmental stressors and genetics may be responsible for the diseases’ development.

Identification, Management, and Self-Help

Seeing your doctor is the first step in ensuring that the symptoms are not being caused by a physical issue. If an anxiety problem is identified, a mental health specialist can collaborate with you to determine the most effective course of action. Sadly, a lot of sufferers of anxiety problems choose not to get treatment. They are unaware that they have a medical ailment for which there are viable remedies.

While every anxiety problem is different, most of them can be effectively treated with psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” and medication. You can administer these therapies singly or in combination. A form of talk therapy called cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can teach a patient new ways to think, feel, and act in order to reduce anxiety. While they cannot treat anxiety disorders, medications can significantly lessen their symptoms. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, which are typically only administered temporarily, are the most often used pharmaceuticals. Some people use beta-blockers, which are prescribed for heart problems, to manage their physical anxiety symptoms.


People take a variety of actions to help manage the symptoms of anxiety disorders and improve the efficacy of treatment. Meditation and stress reduction strategies can be beneficial. Attending in-person or virtual support groups can offer a platform for exchanging experiences and coping mechanisms. Acquiring more knowledge regarding the intricacies of a disorder and aiding loved ones in comprehending it better can also provide beneficial. Steer clear of coffee since it might exacerbate symptoms, and see your doctor before taking any drugs.

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